Callisburg

While it is still early in the season, the Callisburg Lady Cats had a bit of a shock to their system Tuesday, Aug. 13, against Melissa.

The Lady Cats were swept 25-16, 25-12, 25-14 at home and while they are the defending state champs, head coach Angie Allen emphatically said last season is firmly in the past.

“Our heads are not on last year,” Allen said. “We’ve moved on. That’s over. That’s done. And, you know, this is my team this year. We’ve got to fight through whatever adversity this team has. And right now, we’re just learning how to play together. We’ve got to work on our serve-receive and get better at that. So that’s basically what I was telling them after the game so when district rolls around, we can be successful.”

While she recognized her team didn’t play well, Allen said she knows it is still very early in the season.

“I’m not upset at them,” Allen said. “I’m upset because as a coach, you don’t ever want to see your team not play well. I think we struggled tonight, but Melissa was a really good team that we played against. They exposed some of our weaknesses and we didn’t make adjustments in that game. So I’m not upset with them. I’m upset with how we performed and because I think we could do better than that.”

With the loss, the Lady Cats are 2-6 this season after competing in the Nike Tournament over the weekend. Callisburg picked up wins over Anna and Irving.

Allen said she has been tinkering with her rotations lately with the relatively young squad.

“We changed our rotations two or three times in the last couple games we played in that tournament and I think it’s gonna be fun,” Allen said. “We’ve got to work through some kinks on our serves and just really work hard to get the ball to our setter. We want to be in [our] system and run our offense. Tonight, we didn’t do very good at that.”

Melissa was able to find some dead spots in the Lady Cats’ defense and Allen said that was due to a few factors.

“Some of its communication, but some of it is we’re not playing with the speed of the game like this,” Allen said. “It’s speeding up on us and we’re not quite matching their speed. They’re getting good swings and holes in our block. It just makes it hard for our defense.”

Allen said Melissa is one of the best teams the Lady Cats have played this season.

“They’re very good,” Allen said. “I think they have a chance to make a pretty deep push in the playoffs and they were at the state tournament last year. They’ve got several other good players back. They were good and services and they got the ball to their hitters when they needed to. And they swung a lot at us.”

The Lady Cats have a week off before they host Princeton on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Until then, Allen said she will stress defense first.

“[It’s] defense and passing for sure,” Allen said. “If you can’t ever get the ball to your setter, you can’t play. So we’ve got to work on transitioning and make sure that every ball we dig or every ball we pass and serve-receive is getting to our setter so we can run the offense.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip